EARTH 1st 10th Anniversary Celebration

earth-1st-10anniversaryNiagara This Week Editorial- Thorold

A gaping quarry filled with massive machinery isn’t the normal background you’d expect at a gathering to celebrate the protection of the environment.

But with threatening clouds overhead, folks gathered beneath a large tent at Walker Industries’ headquarters on the Niagara Falls-Thorold border last Thursday had just such a backdrop.

It was perhaps fitting for the ceremony, which marked the 10th anniversary of Walker’s celebrated EARTH 1st initiative.

Back in 2003, the company launched a program that made it clear to its hundreds of employees that their ideas on how to make the company an environmental leader were welcomed.

The ideas started pouring in fast and furious, and continue to this day.

You wouldn’t expect a firm that operates landfills and a number of quarries where aggregate is mined, and which produces products such as asphalt, concrete and emulsion products, to give two hoots about being a ‘green’ firm.

But Walker employees bought into the program, resulting in a host of initiatives to reduce the company’s carbon footprint, reduce energy and eliminate nasty materials from products produced.

Walker has done things such as using sunlight to replace artificial light at facilities, asked employees to don sweaters so thermostats can be turned down, developed innovative technology to recycle concrete and asphalt, and completely eliminated the use of formaldehyde from its wax emulsion products.

It’s also donated to the District School Board of Niagara’s Woodend living campus in Niagara-on-the-Lake, and worked with Niagara College on a wetland treatment system for Twelve Mile  Creek in St. Catharines.

For a 126-year old firm to think so far out of the box is proof that even a company with the potential to have a negative impact on the environment by the very nature of its products and services can do its part for Mother Nature.

The company says it’s precisely because of the nature of its business operations that it pushes itself — and encourages its employees — to go above and beyond when it comes to environmental stewardship.

Walker’s example is one that other companies can learn from. It’s the recognition that all the company’s employees, from front-line workers to suits at the head office, are intimately connected with the air they breathe, the water they drink, and the resources that they use. What they do to the environment, they do to themselves.